Danone has announced plans for a joint venture in India with Japan's Yakult Honsha Co.

Held equally by the two partners, the new company, to be called Yakult Danone India Private Limited, will target the development of the Indian market for probiotics.

Yakult Danone India will initially market Yakult brand products, beginning at the end of 2005 and Danone probiotics products and brands may be added later.

Aimed at creating India's leading producer of probiotics, the move is part of a cooperation agreement announced between the two groups in March 2004.

"By joining forces the two partners, will reinforce their leadership in probiotics and hope to develop operations jointly in a country where neither is yet present," Danone added.

"The alliance will also strengthen joint efforts in research and development and raise awareness of probiotics around the world through the Global Probiotics Council and the establishment of joint working groups."